Cynics may scoff at the proliferation of high-end national retail chains on Middle King, but rarely will a shopper find so many so conveniently located, and in such a pleasant environment. The biggies are: The Gap (269 King St., 843/577-2498, Mon.–Thurs. 10 a.m.–7 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 10 a.m.–8 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.–7 p.m.); Banana Republic (247 King St., 843/722-6681, Mon.–Fri. 10 a.m.–7 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.–8 p.m., Sun. noon–6 p.m.); J. Crew (264 King St., 843/534-1640, Mon.–Thurs. 10 a.m.–6 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 10 a.m.–8 p.m., Sun. noon–6 p.m.); and American Apparel (348 King St., 843/853-7220, Mon.–Sat. 10 a.m.–8 p.m., Sun. noon–7 p.m.).
For a locally owned clothing shop, try the innovative Worthwhile (268 King St., 843/723-4418, www.shopworthwhile.com , Mon.–Sat. 10 a.m.–6 p.m., Sun. noon–5 p.m.), which has lots of organic fashion.
After living for a time in L.A., native Charlestonian Guilds Bennett brought back a fun and flirty West Coast vibe to her boutique Miostile (346 King St., 843/722-7073, Mon.–Sat. 10 a.m.–7 p.m., Sun. noon–5 p.m.), which offers designer items in a beautifully restored setting.
Also in this area is one of the city’s most unique locally owned shops: the nationally famous Mary Norton (318 King St., 843/724-1081, www.marynorton.com , Mon.–Sat. 10 a.m.–6 p.m.), formerly Moo Roo, where native Charlestonian Mary Norton creates and sells her one-of-a-kind designer handbags.
Big companies’ losses are your gain at Oops! (326 King St., 843/722-7768, Mon.–Fri. 10 a.m.–6 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.–7 p.m., Sun. noon–6 p.m.), which buys factory mistakes and discontinued lines from major brands at a discount, passing along the savings to you. The range here tends towards colorful and preppy.
If hats are your thing, make sure you visit Magar Hatworks (57 Cannon St., 843/577-7740, www.magarhatworks.com , leighmagar [at] aol [dot] com), where Leigh Magar makes and sells her whimsical, all-natural hats, some of which she designs for Barneys New York.
Another notable locally owned clothing store on King Street is the classy Berlins Men’s and Women’s (114–120 King St., 843/722-1665, Mon.–Sat. 9:30 a.m.–6 p.m.), dating from 1883.